Archive for March, 2013

McMenamins Kennedy School in Portland

I’m back in Portland pet sitting my two special little Italian Greyhounds Luna and Reilly.

Luna and Reilly - aren't they adorable?

Luna and Reilly – aren’t they adorable?

Before their Mom and Dad left they suggested I go to The Kennedy School to watch a movie.  Since I always try to find something new and different to do wherever I go, I decided to check it out.  WOW, what a treat!!!

The Kennedy School has quite a history.  It was an elementary school from 1915 until 1975 when it closed its doors because of its declining condition and was decided it was too old and crumbling to repair.

Mike and Brian McMenamin presented a proposal to renovate the property and on October 22, 1997, the original principal’s bell was rung on the front steps at 7 a.m. sharp to herald the old school’s new beginning as McMenamins Kennedy School.

McMenamins Kennedy School

McMenamins Kennedy School

Today, the school is a hub of activity.  It seems that there is always an event scheduled and while I was there (on a Tuesday night) it was bustling with people in every nook and cranny of the building.

The Kennedy School has 57 guest rooms, some fashioned after former classrooms complete with original chalkboards and cloakrooms, how cool is that?

Guestroom at Kennedy School

Guest room at Kennedy School

A restaurant,

Courtyard Restaurant

Courtyard Restaurant

a brewery,

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several bars,

Boiler Room Bar

Boiler Room Bar

Detention Bar

Detention Bar

a soaking pool,

Soaking pool.  It was lit up the eveing I was there and full of people.  Looked wonderful!

Soaking pool. It was lit up the evening I was there and full of people. Looked wonderful!

I could go on and on.  Just walking along the halls is an experience in itself.  Original artwork and historical photographs cover the walls, ceilings, doorways and hallways.

Hallways of Kennedy School

Hallways of Kennedy School

Beautiful artwork in the halls of Kennedy School

Beautiful artwork in the halls of Kennedy School

After watching the movie ‘Lincoln’, (price of ticket $3) in the theater, which by the way was a fantastic movie if you haven’t seen it, I wandered through the halls poking my head into the restaurant and a few of the bars.  I saw enough to know that I will definitely be back!

Ticket counter for theater.  The pizza looked to dye for!

Ticket counter for theater. The pizza looked to die for!

Comfy couches and stuffed chairs in the Theater

Comfy couches and stuffed chairs in the Theater

I used all photos from the Kennedy School website since it was pretty dark while I was there and my pictures didn’t show how beautiful the place truly is.  You can check out more pictures and learn more about Lincoln School and all the activities on the website below.

http://www.mcmenamins.com/427-kennedy-school-home

 

 

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March 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm Leave a comment

We’re having another baby!

I spent last week-end with my daughter and her family after returning from Maryland.  She also invited her dad to spend the week-end.  He and I are in good terms so I knew it would be a nice week-end.   I had no idea the reason she wanted both of us there was because we would be getting such wonderful news!

My darling grandson LJ

My darling grandson LJ

Friday night while I was helping make dinner, my grandson LJ handed me a piece of paper.  It was an ultrasound!

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I was speechless…and thrilled!  I had no idea that they were considering having another child.  But one is on the way and expected to arrive in late September!   I will soon be the proud grandmother of 4 wonderful grandchildren and two great-grandchildren!  Wow!

LJ says his life is going to be turned upside down in 6 months!  I think he’s right :-).

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We don’t know yet if there’s a little boy or girl waiting to join the family.  We have another month until we find out.   I can’t wait!  But I know whatever it is, he or she will be loved and cherished as much as his/her big brother!

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March 25, 2013 at 3:23 am Leave a comment

The Toughest Decision Pet Owners Have to Make

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Occasionally, the decision-making that surrounds euthanizing a pet is pretty straightforward. In cases of massive trauma, severe illness or unrelenting pain that cannot be managed, the path seems clear. In other cases, however, it can be hard to know what to do.

The feeling that “it’s time” can be more obvious in some situations than in others. But no matter how clear-cut the case may seem, a decision to euthanize a beloved pet often still involves a slew of conflicting thoughts and emotions. Making reasoned choices for our pets in such situations is often agonizing – and maybe that is as it should be. It is no small thing to end a life, and each instance must be approached with care and deep respect.

It Is Never Easy

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Clients often talk about their struggle to find the “right” time. (Veterinarians face this same issue themselves with regard to their own animals.) Few people want to “jump the gun” and end a life too soon. On the other hand, most of us would be horrified if we waited too long and our pets suffered needlessly. So how do we navigate euthanasia decision-making more easily? When the information we have seems clear, but we just can’t wrap our minds around making a decision, what do we do? And what do we do if a veterinarian (or well-meaning friend) suggests euthanasia as something to consider when it hasn’t even been on our radar to begin with? That can be an emotional shocker.

Deciding to euthanize a pet is never easy. This is particularly true when finances, time constraints, physical limitations to providing care, unexpected events, or a need to prioritize the care of our human family trumps our desire to care for our animals. We can feel tremendous guilt, helplessness and sometimes even resentment toward the things and people that we think are standing in the way of what we’d like to do. Sometimes life is so busy it seems there just isn’t time to stop – to take the time we really need to face up to the decisions we must make. And then sometimes it seems there simply are no good choices, no matter how much time we may have.

How to Make Sense of the Difficult

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Having people who can listen to your concerns and questions, and help you sort through things as objectively as possible, can be invaluable. This can then leave room for tackling the equally important emotional issues attached to losing a loved one – in this case, an animal companion.

Your veterinarian can help you with the medical questions and also support you by acknowledging how tough these decisions are. But sometimes the questions related to our emotional attachment are the ones that can be the most important to address because, if not, these emotional factors can be the things that blind us to the reality of our pets’ conditions.

Hard as it may be, we have to acknowledge the realities of our situation. There are “quality-of-life scales” out there that have been popularized, but none of these have been scientifically evaluated or validated. So while they can give us ideas about what we need to consider when we walk down this path, they should not be used as cookie cutter guides for our euthanasia decisions. There is too much individual variation in circumstances. For most people, there are things other than the pet’s actual medical condition that must be considered. From financial resources to time available to care for an ill pet or the physical limitations of caring for a disabled pet – there are often multiple bits of information to process.

Guilt can confuse things even further. In an ideal world, we would all have enough money and time and the right floor plan and the physical strength sufficient to provide any level of home care needed. For some animals – for instance, my own cat – even administering oral medications is not possible. It’s not ideal, but it is real, and it is the reality of our individual situations that is the foundation for making reasoned decisions about what to do with a seriously ill or dying pet.

A Second Pair of Eyes

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Subtle changes (weight loss, arthritis, increases in water drinking, etc.) can be so gradual as to be unnoticeable to us, since we are around our pets daily. Even significant declines in health may not be recognized by you – but may be by a caring friend or by your veterinarian. The observations of others can help us see the reality of a situation more clearly, especially when it comes to pain and loss of function. Be open to this input; resist the urge to block it out because it might be something painful you don’t want to hear. Listen to the assessment of your veterinary team or friend, and weigh what you’re seeing with the information you’re being given. Two of the most common quality-of-life issues that clients often struggle to recognize in their pets are pain and nausea. Your veterinarian can help you more fully understand what is going on with your pet.

Rely on Your Team

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Medicine is all about teamwork. Establishing relationships of trust and understanding with your veterinary medical team can help you feel more comfortable with the advice that is being given. It is important that you understand all of the factors that influence a recommendation from your veterinarian.

  • Write down questions you may have as they come up, so you can remember to get them answered.
  • Ask for clarification about anything you don’t fully understand.
  • Consider scheduling an appointment to speak with your veterinarian about euthanasia without your pet present, so there is less distraction.
  • Have a friend accompany you to take notes, or ask your veterinarian if you can record the conversation so you can review it later to make sure that you heard – and processed – everything.
  • Be honest about your concerns, questions and confusion.
  • Get a second opinion if you think extra information or another set of eyes might make things clearer for you.
  • Speak with a counselor if there are emotional or psychological factors that could be keeping you from being able to make decisions or fully accept what you are being told.

Acknowledge Your Loss

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Part of letting go is recognizing what it is we stand to lose. There are, of course, physical benefits of pet ownership. And maybe, more important, our pets seem to provide many things we, as humans, crave yet are not able to provide to one another: unconditional acceptance and love, unwavering support and unqualified appreciation for who we are. Losing this type of love and connection can be the worst loss some will ever experience. Take time to honor the unique relationship that you will be losing.

At times, the last, best gift of love we can offer our beloved animal companions is release from torment. If your primary focus is truly your pet and their comfort, and your decision is made from a heart of love, you will make the right choice.

By Dr. Carrie La Jeunesse | vetstreet.com

March 21, 2013 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Philadelphia Flower Show – Brilliant!

A few years ago my daughter Heather gave me the book ‘1000 Places to See Before You Die’.  What a wonderful gift it has been.  Every time I plan a trip or am going to be in an area I check my book to see if there’s something I need to see or do.  Well, after scheduling my pet sitting in Maryland, I got out my book and found that the Philadelphia Flower Show was scheduled while I was going to be there.  I spoke with Maddie & Zoeys mommy and she thoughtfully arranged for someone to come in for a day to watch over the girls while I was able to attend.

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The description of the flower show boasts  “The 2013 Flower Show glows with the majestic beauty and creative genius of Great Britain, and is inspired by centuries of British culture, culminating in the urbane design of modern-day London.  “Brilliant!” takes visitors from royal palaces to the dark and foggy streetscapes of Jack the Ripper.  The whimsy of the Mad Hatter’s tea party, the coziness of a country cottage, and the refinement of a manicured cricket club will all come together for a whirlwind tour of the UK.”    The show definitely lived up to its promise!

Saying good-by to Zoey & Maddie

Saying good-by to Zoey & Maddie

After covering up Zoey & Maddie so they were nice and cozy while waiting for my relief pet sitter to arrive, I picked up Donna and we drove to the train station to head to Philadelphia.   We arrived at the flower show and were instantly impressed.  The displays were fantastic!

Entrance to show

Entrance to show

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A fabulous display of English roses and other flowers made up a beautiful interpretation of the royal palace gates.  Just beyond was a line of birch trees, leading to the show’s centerpiece: a sculptured, digitally enhanced version of Big Ben.

Donna in front of Big Ben

Donna in front of Big Ben

Just beyond we were immediately greeted by exhibits and displays made of beautiful plants and flowers.

A lion!

A lion!

A dress!

A dress!

The Philadelphia Flower show, held at the Philadelphia Convention Center is the oldest and most prestigious indoor flower show and has been held since 1829.  Donna and I walked and walked, oohing and aawing and clicking our cameras.

Standing in front of one of the beautiful waterfalls

Standing in front of one of the beautiful waterfalls

There were sixty major exhibits and another 2,500 amateur exhibits.  They all took our breath away!

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Proceeds from the show – usually more than $1 million – are poured back into the city’s community gardens and beautification projects.  At last count, more than 2,000 gardening projects enjoyed the Horticultural Society’s attention, and are integral to keeping Philadelphia the ”Greene Countrie Town” envisioned by its founder, William Penn.

Beautiful table scape

Beautiful table scape

Besides all of the exhibits, there were seminars, how-to demonstrations and many, many venders selling everything from yard art, hand-made soaps, potted plants, yard tools, and even bulbs from Holland.   Sooo many things to look at and possibly purchase!

Alice in Wonderland display

Alice in Wonderland display

Exhibitors from all over the country as well as the Netherlands, Great Britain and Ireland spend an average of 18 months preparing their displays. With only nine days to show off their talents.  It’s absolutely amazing what they have done!

Yard art made of old hoses

Yard art made of old hoses

After walking around the 10 acre convention center for hours, we were pretty exhausted so decided to take a break.  It was a few hours before our train was scheduled to leave so we contemplated what to do with our remaining time in Philly.  Donna mentioned that the Titanic Artifact Exhibition was being held at the Franklin Institute so we hopped in a taxi and off we went!

The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute

The exhibition had about 300 artifacts recovered from the ship’s debris, models of crew members quarters (not much different from todays) and a 1st class stateroom as well as videos of the recovery, and pictures and stories of crew members and passengers.  We were even able to see a display of the dinnerware that each of the classes ate on.  There are no pictures allowed in the exhibit so unfortunately I can’t show any, but it was so amazing to actually SEE items from this ship.

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When we first entered the exhibit, we were given a boarding pass with one of the passengers names on it, what class they were sailing in, where they were from and where they were going.  As we neared the end, there was a wall showing all the passengers names and if they survived or not.  The person on the boarding pass that I received did not survive.

We walked past a wall of ice representing an iceberg and were able to touch it, showing how cold the waters were that these passengers were plunged into.  I can only hope they didn’t last long floating in that frigid water.  I felt so much more emotionally connected to this disaster after going through this exhibit and actually seeing the stories of so many of the lives that were lost, I am so glad we forged on and took advantage of being in Philadelphia on that day.

After a very long and gratifying day, we got back on the train and back to Maryland to my two little pups who were very happy to see me.

March 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm Leave a comment

A day in Annapolis

Maddie & Zoey enjoying the sun

Maddie & Zoey enjoying the sun

While the pups were enjoying the sun, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and go to downtown Annapolis.

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Middleton Tavern

Middleton Tavern

Annapolis is quite a historic city.  It is the capital city of Maryland and actually acted as the Nations capital for a year in the 1780’s.  The entire downtown is a National Historic Landmark.  I absolutely love all the old buildings.

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The U S Navel Academy founded in 1845 is also located right in downtown Annapolis where tours are available, although I haven’t taken one.  An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed here (I can visualize Richard Gere zipping around on his little motorcycle now, ahhhh!).

Chase Lloyd house

Chase Lloyd house

There are a lot of houses on tour including the Chase Lloyd House where Chase Lloyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, lived.

Shops along Green St.

Shops along Green St.

McGarvey's Saloon & Oyster Bar

McGarvey’s Saloon & Oyster Bar

Another fun and unique thing about Annapolis is “Ego Alley”.   Ego Alley is a small, narrow waterway that leads to the heart of the city. It got its name from the endless parade of boats and yachts that traverse this dead-end canal, usually only to see and be seen.

Ego Alley

Ego Alley

Walkway along Ego Alley

Walkway along Ego Alley

My next destination was to the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmer’s Market, or the “Amish Market” as most people call it.

Amish Market in Annapolis

Amish Market in Annapolis

Although located in Annapolis, all the Amish merchants are from Lancaster PA, the heart of PA Dutch Country.  The market is only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  The rest of the week the merchants are preparing items to sell.   And boy do they have a huge assortment!  Cheeses, produce, bakery items, more kinds of candy that you could ever imagine, preserves, etc., etc., etc.

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amish market

Most of the market’s products are grown and prepared  in Lancaster County using traditional PA Dutch recipes that have been handed down by the Amish though the generations.

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I picked up some beautiful vegetables, meat, a loaf of home-made wheat bread, and I had to get a piece of shoefly pie, a traditional Amish pie.  It’s different from anything I’ve ever tasted, and if you’ve never had it, it’s kind of hard to describe.  The filling is sort of like the filling of a pecan pie, but not as sweet, the main ingredient is molasses, and it has a crumbled topping.  Sooo good!

Shoefly pie

Shoefly pie

After going back to the house to walk Maddie and Zoey and have some snuggle time, Donna picked me up and we went to dinner at a small Greek restaurant called Georges Restaurant.  It’s just down the street from where I’m staying and it is so inviting and cozy.  George and his family have had this restaurant since 1983 and it’s always good, and always busy.

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We got to Georges before the crowd hit. It was full when we left

We had one of their specialties, George’s Special White Pizza.  It was topped with chicken, smoked salmon, capers, spinach, red onions, feta cheese and Greek olives.  It was delicious!

Enjoying one of Georges specialty pizzas

Enjoying one of Georges specialty pizzas

George preparing a special meal at the booth next to ours.  Fun!

George preparing a meal at the booth next to ours. Fun!

The end of another wonderful day in Maryland!

March 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Maryland, Iggys & Crab Chowder

For the last week I’ve been in a small town close to Annapolis, Maryland pet sitting two adorable Italian Greyhounds Maddie & Zoey.  I always have so much fun with them.  They’re very special to me and I don’t get to see them very often.

Taking our daily walk

Taking our daily walk

The other day I got a chance to go to lunch with my friend Donna.  We went to a little place called The Point in a marina close to her house.

Beautiful marina

Beautiful marina

Besides LOVING being right on the water and having great conversation, I had the best crab chowder ever!  Huge chunks of crab in a delicious creamy base, yum!  And the oyster po boy wasn’t bad either :-).

Having lunch at The Point

Having lunch at The Point

I’m so fortunate to be able to travel to wonderful places like this doing what I love doing!

I’m looking forward to going to the Philadelphia Flower Show next week-end!

March 4, 2013 at 10:30 am Leave a comment